Early Spring Bloomers

Early Spring Bloomers

Part of Ep. 1202 The Goodness of Gardening

Landscape manager Mark Dwyer takes viewers on a tour of Rotary Gardens in Janesville as it blooms in early spring. He suggests some reliable spring bloomers that can brighten the season, including blubs, and some underused trees and shrubs.

Premiere date: Apr 21, 2004

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Ryan:
Isn't this gorgeous? I sometimes think the flowers of spring are the best. But I also think spring happens to be the shortest season of the year so it makes sense to put spectacular plants in your garden. We're at Rotary Gardens in Janesville with the landscape manager, Mark Dwyer to look at some of the spectacular plants that we can put in our own gardens. Mark, I think we should start with tulips. I don't know why I say that! (both laugh)

Mark Dwyer:
What we see behind us here is our tulips display. This is the remnants of 500 varieties. This is actually the tail end of our display. This is its second year so we're seeing some of the really great colors for late May.

Ryan:
Beautiful! We'll let's talk about some favorites.

Dwyer:
One of the favorites is right here. It's a viridiflora tulip called Artist. And viridiflora meaning having this mottling of green throughout the flower petals. So, it's just very subtle. It's not the type of color that will grab you from a 100 feet away. It's very subtle as you get closer.

Ryan:
It looks like its painted on there look how beautiful.

Dwyer:
It's wonderful. This display, a nice thing about it is we've incorporated some recycled elements. We've ended up using some pergola beams that were blown over in a wind storm years ago.

Ryan:
Oh, really?!

Dwyer:
These are limestone pillars. We've incorporated them into this area, "Turkish Ruins" due to the fact that tulips are native to the Middle East and primarily Turkey.

Ryan:
It makes sense and it works beautifully. What a nice display. This one I like. Is this another one of the viridifloras?

Dwyer:
Yes, it has the green through it. This is one called Pimpernel. It has more of a lily shape. That's a bright magenta with subtle green mottling.

Ryan:
Look at the colors, I like that one.

Dwyer:
It's wonderful.

Ryan:
This has that same shape?

Dwyer:
Right, this is actually a lily flowering tulip called Burgundy. And again, when it opens up during the day it has these great points. It has that cupped shaped flower shape to it. Another great one is one called West point. Which is a yellow flower, very brightly colored. We have that as an impact bulb near one of our front signs.

Ryan:
So these are some of the show stoppers. I'm seeing gaps in here. And from my knowledge a lot of the tulips we're looking at are hybrids they don't come back every single year.

Dwyer:
Right, a lot of these hybrids you can see in some of these clumps. They just haven't perennialized. We typically leave tulips in for two years. However, some of the great tulips for perennializing or coming back are species tulips.

Ryan:
Oh, good point.

Dwyer:
The straight species tend to be smaller. But they tend to spread and perennialize very well.

Ryan:
Less work for me and they're going to come back year after year. I'm going to have to plant some of these spectacular ones but interplant species tulips to keep it going.

Dwyer:
Right.

Ryan:
Other bulbs bloom in the spring besides tulips.

Dwyer:
Another great bulb that I think is under-used is Camassia. It's called Wild Hyacinth. It's a neat plant that does well in damp conditions and part shade, even.

Ryan:
That gives it more versatility than tulips.

Dwyer:
It's real neat, as far as its shape. It looks a little bit like a hyacinth but has a great color range of blue powdery blue and white.

Ryan:
Blues are my favorites!

Dwyer:
Well, our favorite is called Blue Danube. And it's just wonderful planted in mass.

Ryan:
I'm going to have to play with that one. I was not familiar with that one. When I think of blues and purples I think of the Grape Hyacinth. And those are so easy.

Dwyer:
Grape Hyacinth are great for early May to mid-May and we plant them in mass. They're very small bulbs. They're very affordable, easy to plant and we do them in large drifts. The reason for that is having a cool color to tone down the bright, obvious colors.

Ryan:
They really pack a punch. It looks like a carpet of blue.

Dwyer:
The only drawback is they send out foliage. Some of the species will have foliage in late summer. That's something to contend with but the benefits of it far outweigh that problem.

Ryan:
Interplant it with something else to hide that.

Dwyer:
Exactly.

Ryan:
What about trees and shrubs? We all think of flowering crabs we think of lilacs. But there are some others that we don't think of.

Dwyer:
Right, this time of year, a great shrub that not only combines nice blooms, but fragrance is Daphne, or Carol Mackie. It's a neat plant that stays fairly low. Not only does it have fragrant pink blossoms.

Ryan:
Almost a perfumey smell.

Dwyer:
Oh, it's wonderful. It also has this emerging variegated leaf which has sort of a neat cream edge.

Ryan:
Even after the flowers are gone you've got this beautiful variegation.

Dwyer:
They thrive in part shade and don't need much water.

Ryan:
Well, see, there's another. It gives it more versatility, too. One that is blooming in my yard for the first time that I'm so excited about is Fothergilla. What's you're experience with those?

Dwyer:
Well fothergillas are great another under-utilized plant in the landscape. The Fothergillas are related to witch hazel so they have a great fall color but in spring, they have blooms before they even start to leaf out.

Ryan:
They're these glowy white blooms that almost look like little scrub brushes.

Dwyer:
They look like little scrubbers and they're very fragrant, which is nice.

Ryan:
Because they tend to be smaller you can put them in with the perennials which I really like doing too.

Dwyer:
In the garden, hybrids are what you want to use. We use Mount Airy, which is a great variety.

Ryan:
Just gorgeous. Well, thanks. Mark, thank you very much.

Dwyer:
You're welcome.

Ryan:
To learn more check out your local public gardens. You'll find lots of ideas there. I'm Shelley Ryan. As always, thanks for watching and supporting the Wisconsin Gardener. I'm going to leave you with a few images of my attempts to create a pot from the past. I think I'm going to stick to gardening! Until next time.

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